Threat of bee mite real for beekeepers
LAST month at the port of Townsville an Asian honey bee hive infected with the Varroa mite was discovered in a shipping container.
More Varroa mites were discovered last week in feral Asian bee hives at the Townsville suburb of Annandale.
Professional bee-keeper from Proserpine, Rod Webb, said Australia was - until now - the only country in the world that was not affected by the pest that can kill European honey bees.
Cairns-based bee-keeper Graham Thornton feared more than affecting the honey industry the Varroa-infected bees had the potential to kill 95-100% of Australia's feral European honey bee population. "As the number of honey bees fall, the horticulture sector will be most affected, with average losses estimated at $50 million a year," he said.
On July 4 a 10km Movement Control Order was placed on the Port of Townsville area.
Biosecurity Queensland is asking the public to report feral hives for sampling and destruction.
Biosecurity Queensland's Dr Ashley Bunce, Director of the Varroa Mite Response, said while the mites detected at the Port of Townsville were not the more serious Varroa destructor, the incident was being taken seriously.
"Varroa mites present a real threat to the honey bee industry and plant industries that rely on bees for pollination," he said.
The DAF say there have been Asian honey bees in north Queensland for "some years" but they have a resistance to the Varroa mite - European honey bees don't.
Mr Webb has 12 million bees housed in 400 hives and is currently in Bowen pollinating the cucurbit crop.
He is concerned about the recent Varroa infestations in Townsville.
"It's not a case of panic, it a case of solving the problem," he said.
"If we don't solve it we will have a bigger problem."